Even when divorce is a mutual decision you make with your spouse, it can feel like a death has occurred. Some even say divorce is a death without sympathy cards or casseroles. In a way it is. Your marriage has died and left you two separate people instead of one. When you think of the joy of your wedding day, you can understand why the despair of the divorce can feel like something has died.
Because divorce is similar to suffering a death, the five stages of grief apply.
Table of Contents
5 Stages of Dealing with Divorce
Here they are with a few common conceptions relevant to being divorced:
1. Denial – This can’t be happening, not to me. Nothing was wrong with our marriage. I’ll go through the motions but nothing has changed really.
2. Anger – After all these years, he/she does this to me. How can this happen to me? No one else ever had to suffer like this. It’s not fair. Look at all those happy couples; they make me sick. Why didn’t my spouse try harder?
3. Bargaining – I’ll give anything to make this go away. I’ll smile and act happy so this divorce won’t get me down. I’ll surround myself with people so I don’t have to feel divorced. I’ll go out on dates and meet someone to prove I’m a worthy person. I’ll change everything about myself so I don’t have to give up my marriage.
4. Depression – Why bother at all. The world is full of couples and I don’t belong anymore. I’d rather stay home. I don’t want to see anyone or go anywhere. My life will never be good again. No one will want me now. I’m not worthy of a good relationship.
5. Acceptance – My marriage is over because it wasn’t a good marriage. My spouse and I are better apart than we were together. It’s over so I might as well start preparing for the rest of my life.
Along with these well-known stages of grief outlined by the groundbreaking author Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, many therapists have reported some specific questions divorced people ask over and over again.
These questions come out of the following emotions:
⦁ Confusion – What did I do wrong? Why doesn’t he/she love me anymore? When did things start going wrong? Why didn’t I see this coming?
⦁ Fear – How will I survive now? Who will take care of me? Will he/she take everything? Will the kids blame me? Will I have to explain things to anyone? Will everyone blame me?
⦁ Defeat – Why couldn’t I make it work? Why am I such a failure? Why can’t I make anyone love me? These are universal emotions and questions.
If the divorce was the idea of one partner who wanted out, these feelings may be even stronger and more confused. Though you consent to divorce, you feel as if you’ve been made a fool of or dragged into it.It is hard to handle the fact that the marriage is over, that love is gone. There is no way around these feelings.
You will have to go through them whether you want to or not. There’s no way to get through the feelings but to go right through the middle of them.
The good news is, with a little self-awareness, these hurtful feelings will eventually pass.
⦁ Beginning the Healing Process
It won’t be today or tomorrow, but you will return to a normal life. Often, the healing process begins after the final papers are signed. During the process, too much is going on. Each day is like shifting sand and getting through the day is hard enough without the additional stress of delving deeply into your feelings.
When the divorce is granted and your routine is once again mapped out, you will find yourself in a position to quiet down for a few moments and give yourself time to think, and feel. During those times of self-discovery, you will find it helpful to talk to supportive people.
Here are a few ideas for after-divorce care:
⦁ Divorce support group
This can be at your church, hospital, or local community center. Divorce groups are there to share feelings, discuss resources, and help you move toward a future after this devastating process. These groups are often run by trained facilitators but the participants are given a lot of latitude and basically run the show.
This may be to your liking if you need to hear that you are not alone in your experience and if you learn best by shared stories. This may not be to your liking if you desire anonymity as the group members may know you, and vice versa. These support groups are often free of charge and can have the bonus of meeting new people, which will help you get through some of the grieving.
⦁ Professional counseling
You may find a divorce counselor through your doctor, pastor, or a friend. Be sure when you meet with your counselor that he or she fits your personality. You will feel more comfortable sharing your feelings with them.
A counselor may come highly recommended, but if your personalities don’t click, you won’t be moving through the stages of grief as you should. Professional counseling is not free and can actually be quite costly. Some insurance policies may cover a portion of the charges. Shop around for prices as there are several levels of professional counseling degrees charging at different rates.
⦁ Trusted friend or family member
You will need the support of your family and friends as you go through your day-to-day routine. There will be occasions where you’ll be getting together, now without your spouse. Someone within those groups who you can trust is an asset in several ways. You’ll have someone who knows how you feel when things happen; someone who can help you handle situations that are sensitive.
One thing to remember is not to wear out their ears. Your friends and family will eventually tire of the tears and complaints. Even though a trusted friend or family member can help you through your difficult times, be aware that their patience is limited. Use the time you have with them to find solutions to real problems, after you’ve shed a tear or two, to keep things in balance.
Many people who have gone through a divorce say that the stress they experienced during the divorce was more devastating than the stress they felt during their marriage. That’s why it’s so important to invest fully in healing after the divorce. Once you’ve made that decision, find the resources you need to heal and make use of everything at your disposal. The quicker you get to work, the quicker you regain firm footing once again. Yes, divorce is the end of your marriage, but it is not the end of your life.
Katie Smith is the enthusiastic woman. She loves writing about love relationship and lifestyle on Reviewmoon.